Encouraging creativity from day one – how coding for kids leads to careers in creative industries

Now school leavers with skills in coding and STEM are entering fun and exciting roles in creative industries, like game design, film production and animation. Young tech lovers are wising up to the fact that exploring a love of coding and gaming opens far more doors than a job just building websites or developing software – the future of roles in digital technology looks to be an exciting one.
Here, Justin Nihiser – the CEO of kids coding provider, Code Ninjas – discusses the benefits that encouraging children to explore their passion for digital technology could have on their future endeavours. And why coding is far more rewarding and inspiring than you may think.

A 2021 survey by university application charity UCAS showed that interest in technology subjects has never been higher – in the last two years alone, there has been a 400% increase1 in acceptances for students wishing to go on to study Artificial Intelligence (AI) courses at university. As a proud spokesperson for the dynamic impact that coding has on our culture, I’m excited to see that British school leavers are exploring some of the more unconventional options available to them.
Having worked in the child development sector for most of my career, it is encouraging to see young, passionate and talented young coders going into some pretty incredible roles. Some of the most well-respected game developers and digital creatives in this country are under 30 and are creating internationally recognised games that have already made millions in revenue.
Those with the ability to combine a creative flair with an analytical mindset are the trailblazers that will become the next big thing in game development and animation - and this is a skillset that comes from a great deal of passion for STEM and digital technology. But whilst many parents would be quick to assume that their children are only going to excel in these fields through hours of practice, studying and good old-fashioned perseverance, I am here to share why letting children explore coding in a fun, exciting and non-pressured environment from a young age will actually open more doors for them.
This belief comes from a simple, proven theory: children who are motivated to learn through fun are more likely to grow up with a desire to replicate that feeling of enjoyment and satisfaction in their adult life. But don’t just take my word for it. Celebrated neurologist Judy Willis has published an entire study on the merits of letting children learn through play. The paper, titled ‘The Neuroscience of Joyful Education’2, explored this concept and concluded that by letting children relax into their own interests and exploring learning through fun and age-appropriate activities, they are far more likely to retain valuable information.
Logically, allowing children to organically enjoy an activity – and by organically, I mean with no pressure from parents, teachers or peers – will only increase a feeling of happiness over time. This feeling of warmth and satisfaction is something that the child will likely want to replicate or transfer to adult life. In the same vein as a professional footballer who has grown up kicking a ball around the park with friends, or a prima ballerina taking dance lessons from a young age, coders and game-builders have usually been exposed to some sort of digital education in early life and have chosen to explore that further once graduation comes around.
But if that child felt truly relaxed in their coding education, with no pressure to succeed or even think about what they would want to do with that skill in the future, then I feel it goes without saying that this child will one day grow into an adult who wants to explore the more creative roles available to them within the digital technology industry. And, trust me, the opportunities are almost limitless.
Gone are the days of careers in STEM, engineering and other coding fields being restricted to 9-5 desk jobs at international technology companies. Now, avid coders are going on to work in AI, computer game development, audio engineering, animation design and even film production. In a world where young coders are inspired to bring their own creations to life, it’s exciting to see them go on to put this into practice in a very real way when the time comes.
The most important takeaway here is the notion that children are more likely to explore these avenues if the pressure that often comes from learning in a traditional classroom environment is taken out of the equation. Essentially, just let kids be kids – and the rest will follow.  
Through my experiences as the CEO of Code Ninjas, I’ve seen the incredible results that our students achieve from just being welcomed into a safe, inspiring and relaxed atmosphere. There is purposefully no pressure on them to impress anyone – our sessions are all about collaborating with others in a parent-free environment. Through activities that really open our children’s – we call them Ninjas – minds to the possibilities of coding, they see the value in what might have once been described as a screen-time addiction. Whilst parents are becoming more open-minded to the benefits of digital technology, we do still have a long way to go in educating them on the value of screen-time and coding. The hundreds of parents that have signed their children up to our sessions at locations across the UK are seeing the benefits for themselves. Our Ninjas attend sessions throughout the week – and as often as they would like to – with parents leaving them in the care of our fully qualified Code SenseisÔ, often young adults with a passion for digital technology who these children can look up to. Our number one priority at Code Ninjas is to ensure children are equipped with the confidence to believe in their own abilities, without the added responsibilities of tests, goals or academic achievements. And that is really what is important here – let’s take the pressure off.

Justin Nihiser
Is the CEO of kids coding specialist Code Ninjas. At locations across the UK, Canada and the US, kids learn to code in a fun, safe and inspiring learning environment. With a game-based curriculum, kids love to learn and parents clearly see results.